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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


An important problem in spatial ecology is to understand how population-scale patterns emerge from individual-level birth, death, and movement processes. These processes, which depend on local landscape characteristics, vary spatially and may exhibit sharp transitions through behavioural responses to habitat edges, leading to discontinuous population densities. Such systems can be modelled using reaction–diffusion equations with interface conditions that capture local behaviour at patch boundaries. In this work we develop a novel homogenization technique to approximate the large-scale dynamics of the system. We illustrate our approach, which also generalizes to multiple species, with an example of logistic growth within a periodic environment. We find that population persistence and the large-scale population carrying capacity is influenced by patch residence times that depend on patch preference, as well as movement rates in adjacent patches. The forms of the homogenized coefficients yield key theoretical insights into how large-scale dynamics arise from the small-scale features.